How to Properly Inventory Your Home

How exactly does your home insurance protect you when you need it? The key is having a good inventory to be able to prove what you owned and what it was worth. Here's what you should do.

1. Save All Receipts

Keep all your receipts for both proof that you owned each item and what you paid for it. This doesn't mean keep boxes of paper receipts. Most paper receipts fade within a year, so they won't help much for a future disaster.

Scan any physical receipts and save any online receipts to your computer. Don't rely on being able to go back into your online shopping account in case that store closes or removes old information. Have a backup disk that includes your receipts in case something happens to your computer. Also keep a cloud backup in case something happens to your home and everything in it.

2. Create a Detailed List of Everything You Own

Start a spreadsheet and include all your possessions. If it's your first time doing this, go through each room of your home just like a retail clerk doing an inventory in a store. Afterward, you can add new items when you buy them and remove old items when you get rid of them.

Include the brand name, full name of the product and serial numbers. Also include the date of purchase and price to help value a potential claim.

3. Photograph Each Individual Item

Take pictures of every item that you own. Include any identifying brand marks and serial numbers if the item has them. Also include close-up photos from all sides to be able to prove that the item was in good condition. It can be helpful to turn the timestamp on your camera on to know when the photo was taken.

4. Video Your Home Including All of Its Contents

Video your home including all its contents after major purchases and at least once a year. Even though you've already taken photos, this helps to prove that you still own the same items and that their condition hasn't changed from what you originally recorded.

If you ever need to file a home insurance claim, just give all the files to your claims adjuster.